Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

Mohler and Miller Debate the Bible’s Message on Gay Marriage

In Culture, Homosexuality on December 16, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Lisa Miller’s recent Newsweek cover story (December 15, 2008) on “The Bible and Gay Marriage” created a gigantic stir.  If Newsweek was having issues with magazine sales, I am sure that was remedied with this latest issue.  Miller contends:

While the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else’s —to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes. “Marriage” in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other—in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer—in accordance with God’s will. In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.

In this paragraph, Miller gives away the store with her own ideology that is imposed on the Scriptures.

For one, she believes the “Bible is a living document” rightly saying that the Bible has spoken to generations, but missing that the Bible is living and active because the God who inspired it is still living and active, and He does not change.

For two, she brings into it an “American” notion that marriage (notice that she puts “marriage” in quotes) is a civil institution. Ron Paul rightly noted in his “Revolution: A Manifesto” that marriage was not seen as a civil institution in this country until the early 1900’s, a relatively recent development.

Thirdly, she fails to interact with Jesus’ words about marriage being between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:1-10), which is consistent with what Genesis notes in Genesis 1:26-27. Plus, Jesus does condemn lust (Matthew 5:27-30) which is yearning sexually for another outside of God’s boundaries of marriage. He created it, He defines what it is.

Fourthly, she sees marriage as a merely utilitarian contract rather than a God-ordained covenant that is clearly outlined in Scripture. Yet, if one approaches the Scriptures looking for a rationalization for something they wish to see, they will use that paradigm to filter out and justify away that which does not fit their scheme — which is why Mormons use the KJV Bible, yet still are deviant from evangelical faith.

I recommend you listening to Albert Mohler’s interview with Lisa Miller regarding this issue.  Miller’s article is a classic case of building up a straw man, then tearing it down.  Even so, Miller’s article will fail to sway those who hold to the Scriptures as the truth of God’s Word. 

More on this in the days ahead.

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Santa Christ?

In Christmas on December 1, 2008 at 11:47 am

Tim Challies excerpted a portion of Sinclair Ferguson’s wonderful article on “Santa Claus Christianity” which is found in his book “In Christ Alone.” Here is an excerpt:

I took the hand of my toddler son (it was several decades ago now) as we made our way into the local shop on the small and remote Scottish island where earlier that year I had been installed as minister. It was Christmas week. The store was brightly decorated and a general air of excitement was abroad.

Without warning, the conversations of the customers were brought to a halt by a questioning voice from beside me. My son’s upraised index finger pointed at a large cardboard Santa Claus. “Daddy, who is that funny-looking man?” he asked.

Amazement spread across the faces of the jostling shoppers; accusing glances were directed at me. Such shame–the minister’s son did not even recognize Santa Claus! What likelihood, then, of hearing good news in his preaching at the festive season?

It is always easier to lament and critique the new paganism of secularism’s blatant idolatry than to see how easily the church — and we ourselves — twist or dilute the message of the incarnation in order to suit our own tastes. But, sadly, we have various ways of turning the Savior into a kind of Santa Claus.

For the Christian, this is easy to let happen. I listen to a local station here that has started playing Christmas songs 24-hours a day. I am saddened by how many of those songs are about Santa or the weather or the jingling of bells while riding on a sleigh. It brings out some great sentimentality, but it does not really cut to the root of why this season is so special.

I hope you will take time to read this very insightful article.

Sermon Posted: “That’s a ‘When’ When It Comes to Fasting” (Matthew 6:16-18)

In Church Life, Sermons on September 30, 2008 at 9:46 am

I am thankful for the wonderful response to God’s Word, especially in regards to the issue of fasting.  This sermon was preached on Sunday, September 28, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.

Here’s an excerpt:

David Legge noted in a recent sermon that “Prayer is attaching yourself to God, but fasting is detaching yourself from the earth.” Whatever definition you want to put on fasting, few would equal that one. It is a renewed focus away from the things of earth It is a humbling of yourself before God, bringing your body into subjection through discipline.

These particular verses really turned the focus of what fasting was about in transitioning from the Old Testament to the New. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people celebrated various Holy Days. For instance, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) there would be a day of fasting and mourning over their own sins and the sins of a nation. The sacrifices offered that day were scene as ways that they may be reconciled to God for their sins. This served as the only time in the OT on which the people of Israel were commanded directly to fast.

Yet other fasts cropped up. We read about them in Joel when national disasters took place. Nineveh fasted after hearing the reluctant preaching of Jonah. Fasting even took place under Samuel as a part of national revival.

Yet for the most part, fasting prior to Jesus’ time was about repentance of sin that transformed the covenant child into selfless human being. Fasting would be undertaken in order to sacrifice for repentance of sin and looking outward for justice among the people. Look at this passage in Isaiah 58:1-7:

Does this mean Jesus did not care for food? Hardly! In fact, the biggest condemnation the Pharisees gave to Jesus was that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners. His most amazing miracle to us is his feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21). His focus was on his soul and mind being galvanized to the will of His Father, dependent on nothing in the meantime.

“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet;

declare to my people their transgression,

to the house of Jacob their sins.

Yet they seek me daily

and delight to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that did righteousness

and did not forsake the judgment of their God;

they ask of me righteous judgments;

they delight to draw near to God.

‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?

Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,

and oppress all your workers.

Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight

and to hit with a wicked fist.

Fasting like yours this day

will not make your voice to be heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose,

a day for a person to humble himself?

Is it to bow down his head like a reed,

and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?

Will you call this a fast,

and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of wickedness,

to undo the straps of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover him,

and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Yet, with Jesus, the issue of fasting became very different. We see in Matthew 4 that Jesus went out and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Why? Was it for repentance of sin? We know from Scripture and from clear reason that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:14-16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). So what was he doing? One commentator put it so rightly, “He was gathering strength not by eating and resting but by fasting and praying.”

Yet did Jesus seem outwardly strengthened? No, not at all. In fact, Satan tempted him with food and fame and fortune—the very things that Jesus would have struggled with to get him out of his situation. But he said no. Clearly, through his responses to Satan, he found himself feasting on prayer and the Word.

Living God’s Unshakable Truth, Part I: A Desire To Love The One True God

In Culture, For Preachers/Pastors, Sermons on July 7, 2008 at 11:22 am

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, July 6, 2008, as part of our VBS Kickoff at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. To listen to the entire sermon, click here.)

This morning serves as our VBS Kickoff. All this week, children from all over will march in to say their pledges, sing their songs, enjoy the puppets, do the Penny March, guess in the Mystery Box, have snacks, make crafts, and learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As you have seen from everyone wearing T-Shirts, the theme is “Outrigger Island: Living God’s Unshakable Truth.”

What a great theme. Living God’s Unshakable Truth! How does one go about this? What’s interesting is that when many read this, they have a hard time reconciling this statement. When people read the word ‘truth,’ they begin to this of principles and ideas that can be thought, but it does not have to affect their living. It is a truth that 2+2=4, but how does that truth change my life? We can know that Johannesburg is the capital of South Africa. That’s true, but so what?

What we are seeing is that there are truths put out in the Scriptures that we cannot just take or leave. We have to deal with them and have a choice of accepting them or rejecting them. And left to our own devices, we will reject the great truths that God puts forward in his Word and his world. But God works in us to help us not only know the truth but to live out that truth. You see, we live out what we believe… you cannot separate the two.

So what does your life speak about how you live? Is it on the shifting sand of the here and now? You’ll never get your footing that way.


1. We have a desire to love the only true God.

In Psalm 86:10, we read, “For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.” Isn’t it wonderful that we can go to God in prayer? “For you…” David says. He’s not just simply stating how great God is and how wonderful his acts are — he’s addressing them to God. We see even Jesus doing this: “Our Father who heaven, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He puts before God his attributes in order to glorify him. Again, Jesus does this in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Some may ask, “Why would you spend time in prayer telling God about Himself? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if he is God, he already knows?” To answer this, Charles Spurgeon said when writing about prayer that we should learn to pray with arguments. He said that we should “sharpen our thinking by learning to express the reasons why God should answer our prayers affirmatively.” So this method of praying is not simply for his benefit, but for ours. We pray out of love for God so that his glory may spread in our hearts.

David does this all through Psalm 86. He tells God all about … God! God is “gracious” (v. 3), “good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you” (v. 4), and that in the day of trouble he calls upon him, “for you answer me” (v. 7). He tells God that there is none other God like him (v. 8). Later, he calls God “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (v. 15).

So back in verse 10, David starts by calling God “great.” David realizes that God is the only one… he is exclusive. “There is none like you among the dogs, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours” (86:8). David knows that even though he is “poor and needy” (v. 1) and is pleading for grace (v. 6), he is able to obtain an audience with the great God of the universe because he knows that, even though he is God over all, he “will answer” (v. 7).

God is great and does great things. He is unshakable. And since God is truth and his Word is truth, we know that there is a sure anchor in this world. In fact, he is the only anchor we have. He knows that there is only one true and living God who is worthy of our praise and adoration. In theory, many of us believe there is just one God who made and sustains all. Some say, “Since there is just one God, then all religions lead to that one God. After all, all religions basically say the same thing.” This is silly, of course, because there are clearly marked differences.

Let me ask you this: do you have an issue with prayer? Do you find yourself not knowing what to say in prayer? Then come before God and pray back to him his attributes. Pray back to him the Scriptures. Do we struggle with coming before him in prayer? Maybe it’s because instead of telling God how great he is and how wonderful he does things, we in our heart of hearts want to see that!

But part of loving the true God is getting to know him and his attributes. Paul said he would rather know Christ than have all the accolades of the world. For Peter, who in the flesh longed to be first and rely on his own strength in obedience, noted in 1 Peter 2:6 that Jesus is our cornerstone and that he is “precious.” He paved the way to heaven by his death, burial, and resurrection. Christ not only died for our sins but was raised for our sins as well. He intercedes even now. The only way we can truly love God is by loving Jesus who shows us his greatness and shows us the wondrous things he has done.